The mood was decidedly anti-Wall Street among the crowd who gathered on April 28 for the final lecture in Access Restricted, a series sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council exploring the relationship between finance and city design. We were packed into one of the Street’s oldest strongholds: 48 Wall St., the site where Alexander Hamilton established the country’s first bank in 1789, though the current building dates from 1928. As the sun set, we were told we would be taken up to the cupola for a rare view of “twilight on Wall Street,” prompting one audience member to call out, “Is that metaphorical?” to widespread titters.
The New York Times last week reported on “Smart Infrastructure,” or computer-controlled systems (energy grids, highways, trains, food distribution, health records, water systems, etc) that could increase efficiency and save millions of dollars. I.B.M, for instance, has had success monitoring congestion pricing in places like Stockholm and London, it’s improving management for bus and train systems worldwide, and it’s working with food producers to limit the billions worth of food that are thrown away every year. So the U.S. is creating much of the innovative technology, but other countries have been first to implement it. Well one for two isn’t bad.. The good news: On April 30 IBM announced $2 billion in financing to make such systems more easily available for stimulus-related projects in the U.S.
One of the highlights of visiting the AIA Convention has been leaving the convention hall to see some of the wonderful new architecture in San Francisco. We got to see favorites like Daniel Libeskind’s new Jewish Museum, Herzog & De Meuron’s De Young, and Renzo Piano’s Academy of Sciences. But perhaps more unique were the AIA SF Home tours, where we could step inside homes otherwised closed to the public. Two highlights were in the lovely South Park Neighborhood: the Gallery House, by Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects and the South Park Residence + Studio by Sand Studios. Both are studies in contrast. The first, which boasts a world class art collection and a visually interconnected series of vertical spaces, contrasts huge exposed steel beams with pristine white art-ready walls. The second combines the exposed concrete and wood of an old warehouse space with sophisticated, and layered modern finishes.
If you couldn’t make it out San Francisco for the AIA Convention this weekend (if you did, be sure to say hi to Sam and the rest of the gang), don’t fret. The Institute has been kind enough to set up streaming video of many of the lectures and events, and you can even earn credits for it. Sure, you’ll miss all the fun after-parties, like our own, but it also beats flying coach.
Another strange day at the AIA Convention in San Francisco. And perhaps the weirdest place of all is the Expo floor, where you can examine products ranging from stainless steel bathroom stalls to impact resistant drywall to powder coatings for steel systems (actually not a bad idea). But perhaps the strangest, and perhaps most intriguing product award goes to a company called Sky Factory, which manufactures “virtual windows” and “sky ceilings” which create the illusion that you have a beautiful waterfall or an ocean view outside your building. Read More
The Long Beach Press-Telegram and Curbed LA report that on Earth Day marine artist Robert Wyland painted a 2.8 acre mural of planet earth, called “Earth: The Blue Planet,” on the roof of the Long Beach Arena. Wyland did the work for free, but in corporate fashion, the mural is “inspired” by the new Disney film Earth, according to Wyland’s web site. The same week he finished a renovation of his 1992 whale and marine life mural, “Planet Ocean,” on the arena’s exterior walls. That 116,000 square foot, 10-story-tall work was declared the largest mural in the world when completed. Not bad Long Beach. Now if they could only replace one of the chain restaurants on the Harbor with a local eatery…
As Gothamist and Curbed have pointed out today, workers up on the High Line have begun removing one of the elevated track cum park’s dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of graffitos, as seen in the picture above. Everyone seems to be worried about this one mediocre piece, but it’s our sorry job to report that the tragedy goes far deeper than that. Read More
As part of Earth Day New York’s annual festival, taking place today and tomorrow at Grand Central Terminal, Brooklyn-based eco-friendly buildings products supplier Green Depot is debuting their new Pop-Up store, which promotes the company’s Do-It-Yourself motto while providing sustainable building materials, products, and accessories to an commuter consumer-base on the go. Read More
But please, only in moderation. Inhaling too deeply at a new London bar may leave you, well….drunk. 2 Ganton Street, once an unused storefront, has reopened as a self-contained, walk-in gin and tonic. Imbibers at Alcoholic Architecture simply slip into provided plastic jumpsuits, breathe, and enjoy the buzz. The creators of the bar, Bompas and Parr, have effectively revolutionized the bar experience by removing the traditional, and oh so painstakingly boring, order and sip protocol.
On Saturday LA residents and park rangers alike celebrated the opening of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City. Located on a hill 500 feet above the city, the new 50 acre state park has probably the most complete view of Los Angeles that exists, with close to 360 degree vistas that stretch from Downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean. Read More